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Water Plumes Detected Again On Jupiter’s Moon Europa, Good Candidate To Search For Aliens

First Posted: Apr 15, 2017 06:40 AM EDT

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope spotted a 100-kilometer-high plume near the equator of Jupiter’s moon Europa in February 2016. The announcement was made recently by the officials and researchers from the American space agency.

Incidentally, the plume was detected in the same location as an earlier smaller one, which the Hubble had seen back in March 2014. According to a report, the location of both plumes is right in the center of an unusually warm part of the surface on Europa. A fact identified it by the U.S. space agency’s Galileo Jupiter mission that took place in the late 1990s.

"This recent observation adds to the growing evidence that Europa's complex geology belies an active, maybe habitable, ocean and ice shell," said Hubble team member Britney Schmidt in a statement. "Understanding the plumbing of Europa through studies like this gives us a chance to better understand that picture." The research paper has been published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

According to NASA Director of Planetary Sciences Jim Green, humanity will get a chance to take a closer look at Europa’s plumes relatively soon with the Europa Clipper mission that is going to be launched in the 2020s, CNET reported. Moreover, according to the space agency, the Jovian moon’s towering plumes could be the apt place to hunt for life.

Europa is one of the best bets to host alien life in the Solar System, apart from Saturn’s moon Enceladus, because a huge ocean of liquid water exists beneath the Jovian moon’s icy shelf. In fact, the planning of the $2 billion Europa Clipper mission is being influenced by the plumes’ discovery.

The solar-powered mission will use various instruments to investigate Europa’s icy shell and underlying ocean. Subsequently, the data gathered will help scientists to understand the moon’s ability to host life as is known.

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